I’ve said it before. This being a parent never really ends, does it?
We never stop trying to keep the hurt away from our kids, no matter how old they are, do we?
But hurt is everywhere and, no matter how well you’ve prepared them, it seems that there’s always something that you’ve overlooked. It’s just the nature of things.
This past Christmas, we had our oldest son and his fiance here for two weeks.
I wish I could tell you how much my wife and I were smitten with the young lady he’s taken a fancy to.
She’s smart and pretty and has a great sense of humor. Better still, in the evenings, she actually enjoyed sitting around and talking with us rather than watching television or going out to do things.
She likes to cook and she introduced us to a world of dishes (no Brussels sprouts though) that we’d never tasted before.
She laughs easily and isn’t afraid to say that she doesn’t understand something. On top of that, she’s willing to ask question after question to be sure she grasps whatever it is that’s being explained.
She’s a physician from Japan and is in the process of getting her license to practice medicine in the United States as well as obtaining the documents necessary to move here.
To say that there are hurdles would be understating things by a mile. She’s currently spending six weeks at a hospital somewhere in the hinterlands of South Dakota in order to observe treatment procedures used in our country and she’ll eventually have to redo her residency at a hospital that could be anywhere.
And that’s just her side of the equation.
My son met her in Japan. He’s been there for several years. He’d originally earned a degree in computer graphics but found that he didn’t like feeling burned out at the age of 26. So he went over to teach English and take a fresh look at what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
He’ll finish a second degree in accounting in a few months and will then come back to the United States to begin a job search that will be daunting to say the least. Add to that job search the uncertainty as to where his fiance will do her residency and you have a hill of problems that I wouldn’t even want to look at, let alone try to climb.
Still, they’re going to do it. That’s because they care for each other and have that well of love we all had when we were their age that can be drawn from when necessary - which you can bet will be often over the next few years.
Looking back, I don’t remember our tough spots all that well any more. My wife and I had them but, like you, we made it through and, now, they don’t seem to have the hard edges that our son and his fiance now face.
Maybe we’ve just forgotten them and, maybe, that’s as it should be.
But one thing that hasn’t changed for us in all those years is that we’re both still parents and we’d like for them not to have the struggles they’re facing over the next few years.
Too, it’s hard laying awake in the wee hours wishing that we had all of the answers for them - especially for one other problem they’re facing.
Our future daughter-in-law’s father has cut off all contact with her because she’ll be marrying our son - who isn’t Japanese.
Having a daughter of my own, I cannot even begin to fathom this.
Bright, thoughtful, inquisitive and kind all wrapped in a beautiful package isn’t something you toss aside, but it’s happening and why we humans do such things is beyond my understanding. The best explanation I can offer - which isn’t the least bit profound - is that we can be truly stupid when we want to be.
And seeing the pain that it’s causing my son and his fiance makes me want to find a way to make it stop.
Because I’m a parent and parents are supposed to take away the hurt.